We have injected by iontophoresis 4-amino-pyridine, a K+ channel blocker and BAPTA, (a Ca++ chelator), into scala media of the first three turns of the guinea pig cochlea. We measured the reduction in outer hair cell (OHC) receptor current, as indicated by cochlear microphonic measured in scala media evoked by a 207 Hz tone, and compared this with the elevation of the cochlear action potential (CAP) threshold. We found that in the basal turn, for frequencies between 12 and 21 kHz, CAP threshold was elevated by about 30 dB, while in the second turn, at the 3 kHz place, the maximum elevation was 15 dB. In the third turn, iontophoresis of 4AP and BAPTA reduced CM by similar amounts to that in the basal and second turn, but caused negligible elevation of CAP threshold. We conclude that the gain of the cochlear amplifier is maximal for basal turn frequencies, is halved at 3 kHz, and is reduced to close to one for frequencies below I kHz (no active gain). The effect of 4AP and BAPTA on neural threshold and the receptor current represented by CM may be explained by their action on OHC transduction without the involvement of IHCs. (c) 2005 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.